WE REMAIN YOUR ALLIES; MEDIA ASSURES NEITI

The Nigerian media has pledged commitment to the implementation of the EITI in Nigeria through balance reporting and engagement. This is one of the resolutions reached at the end of the three days capacity building for the media organized by NEITI in Nasarawa State. The media, represented by leading print and electronic news organisations welcomed NEITI’s intervention in the extractive industries and acknowledged ongoing reforms arising mostly from NEITI’s report findings and recommendations.

The media observed that a close look at NEITI’s previous reports shows that the restructuring of NNPC (seven big wins) and unveiling the roadmap for the solid mineral sector were part of NEITI’s remedial issues. The media urged NEITI to do more to sustain the reforms through regular exchange of information and data for proper interrogation and advocacy. The media however, called on NEITI to review the structure of its reports in terms of content, outlook and presentation to make them users friendly.

The present structure of NEITI reports; usually in big volumes full of graphs, tables and technical jargons, buries important information and fact and makes it difficult for the media to effectively engage in dissemination. It is therefore recommended that simplified versions of the reports are produced by NEITI and made available to the media as soon as the reports are released.

Declaring the workshop open, the Chairman of NEITI National stakeholders working group, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, described the capacity building as part of NEITI’s effort to build closer partnership with the media. The Chairman who was represented by Otunba Gbenga, the Chair of NSWG communications committee thanked the media for their valued contributions to the NEITI process.

He said the objective of the workshop was to strengthen the capacity of media professionals on reporting the extractive sector and expose participants to EITI processes in Nigeria with specific emphasis on the role of the media.

He stated that for Nigerians to be mobilized to hold companies and government accountable, the media must support NEITI to implement its mandate in the extractive sector value chain, through strategic communication targeted at educating and enlightening the citizenry.

The Chairman commended the Federal government on the on-going reforms in the oil, gas and mining sectors, noting that NEITI believes that the time to translate the reforms in to impact has come.

“Our major challenge has not been with conducting and publishing the extractive industries audit reports but more on dissemination,addressing remedial issues and implementing recommendations of these audit reports,” he remarked.

Mr. Onayiga called on the media to fully come on board by actively engaging with NEITI reports and using the data and information contained there-in to mobilize citizens for change and reforms in the sectors, noting that the role of the media is crucial to the success of EITI implementation in Nigeria.

He noted that “NEITI under the present Governing Board is ready to go beyond revenue transparency, to implementing such EITI standards like beneficial ownership transparency, contract as well as expenditure transparency”.

Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Executive Secretary of NEITI, Mr. Waziri Adio who was represented by the Director,Finance and Accounts, Mr. Donald Tyoachimin observed that the recommendations of NEITI reports are currently leading reforms in Nigeria’s oil, gas and mining sectors.

“It is gratifying to note that NEITI reports have become major instruments leading the on-going massive reforms in the sector. For instance, all NEITI recommendations since 1999 are now leading the reforms. These include NEITI recommendations for the structuring of the NNPC, removal of fuel subsidy, cancellation of SWAP/OPA and Federal Government’s exit from JV cash calls….as a result of NEITI reports, there is now a clear directive on the remittance of NLNG dividends directly to the federation account. A close look at the NEITI reports from 2000-2014 showed unremitted NLNG loans and interest repayments to the tune of $15.8bn”he stated.

Mr. Adio applauded the new team at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for the courage to implement the on-going reforms, and called on the Federal Government to expedite actions on the passage of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill and the issue of a metering infrastructure for the oil and gas sector.

The Executive Secretary also called on the media to rise up to the challenge of enthroning a regime of transparency and accountability in the management of extractive revenues and ensure that our natural resources work for all Nigerians.

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